by Jack Kintner
Bellingham nips Blaine 36-33 in titanic game
Blaine narrowly lost its last dual meet of the season 36-33 in a titanic back-and-forth struggle that saw each team notch four pins.
The meet began evenly with a double forfeit as neither team had a contestant at 103 pounds. Blaine’s Jacob Humphrey won by forfeit at 112. At 119 Bellingham’s Michael Takamura pinned Blaine freshman Camden Nix but at 125 Blaine’s DJ Duncan returned the favor, pinning Alex McClement in the third period.
Blaine co-captain Mike Broyan was too sick to compete at 130 for a forfeit win for Bellingham, and at 135 Blaine sophomore Tyson Foster valiantly locked up J.T. Fitzgerald for most of the match, losing a close one 2-0.
Bellingham’s reputed strength in the middle weights was evident as Red Raiders Cameron Brearley (140), McKray Jones (145) and Aaron Teich (152) all won by pin, but Blaine’s only senior competitor Niko Rehon broke their string by pinning Chris Lowe in 59 seconds. Blaine won the next three matches as Alex Pennington (171) pinned Riley Mullet, lanky sophomore Darrell Price (189) mopped up the mat with Jake Cary for a 6-1 decision and Shane Hicks (215) quickly pinned Austin Roy in just over a minute.
This tied the meet and set the stage for Blaine junior Cody Dobbs (285) to meet Bellingham’s best wrestler, Blair West, whose smugness was broken when Dobbs threw him to the mat like a shot moose, leaving him holding his nose in pain.
The match was stopped while West was examined but he chose to continue, and won in the third period with experience as opposed to superior strength, outpointing Dobbs 9-5 after trailing much of the match for the win and the meet team victory for Bellingham.
Head wrestling coach Craig Foster said before the match that he expected Bellingham to be tough in the middle weight classes, and they were, but Blaine’s young team acquitted itself very well against one of the class programs in the county.
At last weekend’s conference meet, an open class tue-up for sub-districts, Blaine took fourth place and had one class champion and two seconds. Blaine junior Shane Hicks (189) pinned Mount Vernon’s Brad Rabenstein to take the honors in his weight class, and Blaine sophomore Jacob Humphrey (112) and senior Nico Rehon (160) finished second in their respective divisions.
All three have good chances for the podium at the state meet February 16 and 17 at the Tacoma Dome.
A strong play, but not enough for Burlington
Blaine hosted the Burlington-Edison Tigers, the state’s number four team, and lost the game at the free throw line.
It’s not that the Borderites weren’t shooting that well but that they didn’t get to shoot many free throws at all, the refs giving Burlington a whopping 29 foul shots to only seven for Blaine.
Unless one team
is playing armed thugs the fouls ought to come out about
even, as basketball is a sport in which, when contact happens,
it’s sometimes the fault of
one player and sometimes the fault of the other.
Sometimes one team will foul half again as much as the other, but this kind of inequity is almost impossible.
However, it’s not an excuse for losing. Whatever the reason this kind of blatantly uneven officiating happens – whether it’s from incompetence or by design – it’s toughest on the Blaine players.
They distinguished themselves last Saturday night against one of the top 2AA teams in the state by coming out with a combination of aggression and caution that had them ahead for much of the first half before beginning to fade in the second quarter when Joey Paciorek was subbed out with early foul trouble.
Still, they worked their way back up from an eight point deficit to close to within four points by the half.
In the third quarter the tale was told as Burlington was called for just one foul while Blaine suddenly found itself with Paciorek, Mike Pianki and Nate Tewalt with four fouls, forcing coach Dan Rucker to sub them out. As long as Blaine was allowed to play its game, as Burlington was encouraged to do all evening, they were a match for the impressively talented Tigers.
But that was not to be. Calls were flying thick and fast as Tewalt was struck from behind in the head while driving to the basket and was called for charging.
Paciorek jumped up in the backcourt to pass out of a press and had his legs taken out from under him by a sliding defensive player, but was called for the foul anyway.
After a game like this, Blaine deserves a prize for just showing up. Even Burlington head coach Rick Skeen agreed, telling Rucker after the game, “The refs really did it to you tonight.”
At the very least, coaches and players on both sides all deserve a better effort from the officials. After all, we can’t play without them, so maybe they can help us play with them, especially since everyone else in the gym is trying to do their best, including players, band members, coaches and parents.
Likewise, at a minimum officials should do the same in knowing their job well, focusing on their work while the game is underway and always trying harder to get it right.
It’s not the loss so much as the feeling that no matter what the boys do in practice or how hard they try out on the court, they’re not being given a fair chance.
Blaine’s next game happened after press time Wednesday night at Sehome in Bellingham, and was a crucial match for determining post-season play as Anacortes, Sehome and Blaine are all vying for a spot.
The boys are back home on Groundhog Day (Friday, February 2) against Bellingham.
Lady B’s out-throws Sehome by 10
The Borderites upset the Sehome Mariners 55-45 Tuesday night behind Alyssa Hendrickson’s 23 points and a focused, hustling attack by the whole team as eight different girls shared in the scoring.
They beat a team that’s still won 12 while only losing four but showed just how well they can play when they smell the blood of a bigger but wounded quarry.
Blaine started quickly, as they have consistently in the past few games, outrunning the taller Mariners in the first few minutes until hot-shooting guard Jackie Zender began uncorking a few long bombs.
Blaine answered effectively, though, with an effective zone that had Sehome firing cross-court passes and then launching long bricks that clanked off the rim. For the game, Sehome shot a cold 27 percent going 16 for 58.
Little powerhouse Tessa Baker was another part of the answer, firing from long range like a mortar, sometimes through traffic more than a foot taller, while Hendrickson and Kellee Harbst kept up the barrage from close range.
Harbst’s game has blossomed like a rose late in the season, and she was more than a match for Sehome’s talented and graceful six-footer Brittany Todhunter, outscoring her personally 16-14.
Sehome led by 2 at the end of the first quarter and began pulling away in the second until Blaine began scoring almost at will, taking the game away from Sehome in every way they could, including forcing more turnovers (16) than they allowed (13).
Blaine’s control of the game became evident in closing an eight-point gap down to one with a perfect buzzer-beater by Harbst just as the second quarter ended.
Coach Rob Adams reminded them at the half that with that kind of charge they could have the game if they wanted it, and they did.
next play at Bellingham Thursday night, February 1, and
then face their final three opponents, Lynden here, Mt.
Baker there and Anacortes here, teams with a combined record
of 32 wins and one loss.
Any less of a challenge for these kids would not be up to the standard they’ve set.